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Wolak, Janis., Finkelhor, David., Mitchell, Kimberly J., Ybarra, Michele L. (2008). Online “Predators” and Their Victims. American Psychologist, 63(2), 111-128.

In this paper, the authors use current data, or lack thereof, to support or dispel popular myths relating to internet sex crimes involving cyber predators and underage persons. One such myth is the belief that internet sex offenders largely target prepubescent children while research shows that adolescent teens are more at risk of being exploited. Although this victimization ranges from rape to murder, oftentimes internet predators meet underage persons through consensual means resulting in a statutory rape offense. They also assert that social networking sites do not appear to increase victimization. The paper supports the idea (Young, 2005) that online sex offenders including those captured in undercover sting operations psychologically and motivationally differ from the typical pedophile with, for example, lower levels of violent and sadistic dispositions. The authors identify the characteristics of the most vulnerable youths, positing that girls and homosexual/questioning boys are more likely to experience coercive victimization. Along with implications for prevention and treatment of child sex offender and victim, a noteworthy section of future research needs is included.